BSB leads debate about race equality at the Bar

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published a report of the event it hosted last month to consider how to improve race equality at the Bar.

The event, called “Heads Above the Parapet: How can we improve Race Equality at the Bar?”, was attended by over 50 delegates including practising barristers, other legal practitioners, educators, race equality organisations, diversity experts and senior leaders from the BSB. Guest speakers, Sara Ibrahimfrom 3 Hare Court and Dr Leslie Thomas QC from Garden Court Chambers, provided interesting perspectives on the realities of being Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) practising barristers.

The focus of the event was to identify the barriers for BAME people accessing and progressing through a career at the Bar, and to consider how best to remove these barriers. Delegates suggested a range of possible solutions which have been broadly categorised as follows:

  • greater transparency around recruitment of pupils and barristers;
  • greater enforcement, direction and support from the BSB to tackle race inequality, for example by holding chambers to account if they are not enforcing diversity policies;
  • greater visibility of BAME role models at the Bar;
  • development of an equality and diversity “kite mark” to recognise good practice; and
  • continued collaboration within and beyond the profession and with race equality organisations.

The BSB intends to consider all of the proposals put forward during the event and is developing a series of recommendations which it hopes to publish soon.

Speaking at the event, BSB Director-General Dr Vanessa Davies said:

“We are strongly committed at the BSB to working with the profession in these quite difficult and sometimes sensitive areas, and having the courage to say difficult things when they need to be said is what the public and the profession have a right to expect from the regulator.”

After the event, BSB Head of Equality and Access to Justice, Amit Popat said:

“We would like to thank everybody who contributed to this important and very useful debate. We will now carefully consider the solutions suggested by participants and in accordance with ourEquality and Diversity Strategy.  Through the development of an action plan, we will continue to work with the profession and others to help improve race equality at the Bar.”

The report of the event which has been published for the first time today, can be found here.

Video of the event can be found here.

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